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Minnesota Supreme Court OKs policing ballot question

If approved by voters, the ballot proposal would replace the Minneapolis police department.

Updated: September 17, 2021 - 11:42pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

The Minnesota Supreme Court reversed a lower court’s decision to strike down a ballot initiative asking whether voters want to replace the Minneapolis Police department with a department of public safety.

The ballot question, sparked by the May 2020 killing of George Floyd in police custody, weighs a more significant problem of how police balance public safety and enforcing crimes. After Floyd’s death, most of the City Council said they intended to dismantle the police department and replace it with a different model. The council pushed a plan to do so, but on Tuesday, Hennepin County Judge Jamie Anderson struck down the ballot language summary, saying it was “unreasonable and misleading.”

If approved by voters, the ballot proposal would remove the city charter minimum policing requirement based on city population and replace the police department with a “comprehensive public safety approach” that would include police officers "if necessary to fulfill the department’s responsibilities."

Minneapolis City Attorney Jim Rowader hasn’t returned a request for comment.

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison supports the measure, despite elevated violent crime since 2020. He tweeted in late August: “Fundamentally, communities across Mpls need & want the possibility for reform & accountability, which the current Charter blocks by locking us into an outdated model for law enforcement and safety. They want to end the cycle of inaction.”

Early voting for the Nov. 2 election kicks off Friday.

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